Lesson 1

The Goal:

This lesson will familiarize you with the concept of MLA formatting. You will also be introduced to the concept of academic writing.

*MLA (Modern Language Association) formatting will be required in most of your humanities courses. Other courses may require citation styles such as APA or the Council of Science Editors style; however, the basic concept remains the same… follow the handbook! Good citation style allows your professors to check your sources and to recognize immediately that you are a good, honest student.

Academic writing is a special kind of essay that is used in college and university classrooms to demonstrate a student’s understanding of various issues, ideas, or concepts. Your teachers will use it to assess what you’re learning in a classroom and how you’re processing the ideas and research to which you’ve been introduced.   Read this week’s assignments to get a deeper understanding of what this means to you as a student.

What to Read:

  1. What is Academic Writing?‘   by Lennie L. Irvin in Writing Spaces, Vol 1.
  2. Read MLA-1, 2 &3 in  A Writer’s Reference (pp.395-412)in A Writer’s Reference Note:

    It’s extremely important that you read and understand this section of A Writer’s Reference. You are required to submit all of your papers in the correct MLA format. No exceptions!

    If for some reason you’re confused about any of the instructions in this section, please contact me  before turning your papers in.

  3. *”Of Traps and Snares” from The Stars, The Snow, The Fire  by John Haines (found in the  class’s  blackboard  site)
  4. *“Death of an Innocent” by Jon Krakauer

Essays marked with an asterisk ( * ) are those you will discuss on the discussion pages for your section of the course.

Watch the following video for a tutorial on formatting MLA papers in Google Docs:


Watch the following video for a tutorial on formatting MLA papers in Microsoft Word:

Download these documents for further understanding:

Pre-formatted MLA Template

MLA Basics Page

MLA Basic Formatting for a Works Cited Page

Writing Exercise:

You will have 10 writing exercises (includes the MLA quiz) over the course of the semester that allow you the chance to improve your basic writing skills and formatting concepts.

Week 1 Assignment:

  • Write a one-page response to the following question:  How has your education shaped your view of what it means to be a good writer?  You should format your introduction according to the MLA guidelines you covered in A Writer’s Reference.
  • Submit this assignment in Blackboard under “WA1,” (Weekly Assignment 1). See the “How to Submit Work” page for more information.



The Discussion page is where some of the “lecturing” is done. We will be using a platform called Slack for our discussions. You should have received an invitation from me about Slack, but if you need more info about the site, see Slack’s “Getting Started” Page. Our discussions take the place of a seminar-style classroom. You will read the week’s essays and respond to the ideas in the essays, as well as your classmate’s ideas.

All responses must be the equivalent of  2 healthy paragraphs of content and no fewer that 5 responses to your peers. What does “the equivalent of 2 paragraphs” mean, exactly? The discussions are just that: discussions, back and forth conversations. I would like you to build and engage with your classmates and the texts.  If your responses are shorter, you will be expected to have more responses in a discussion (in other words, you can spread your paragraphs out and respond to other students as well as to your instructor). You should respond at least five times, based on your classmates’ and my responses, and the content should be equivalent to about two paragraphs. Most students don’t mind sharing their real identity, but if for some reason you want to remain anonymous, you may pick a pseudonym, but you must share your pseudonym with me. I will keep it safely guarded.

Go to the Discussion page for more info  and to get started!


Submission Checklist:

  • Email your instructor from your University of Alaska email account.
  • 1-page, properly formatted response regarding “good writing”  submitted in Blackboard.
  • 2-paragraph contribution to Slack discussion.

with Megan Bush